Tag Archives: emergency

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When to Appoint a Special Administrator after Someone has Died

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If someone has died and there is an emergency about property, there is a solution. It is called a Special Administration.This blog discusses when to appoint a special administrator after someone has died. Some typical examples of when this is needed are:

a. If no one has access to the property to be able to look for a Will. Normally, if there is family around, the family be able to gain access to the house. However, if there is no family, a friend or fiduciary company may need to be appointed on a temporary basis (as a Special Administrator) to go onto the property and look for a Will.

b. If the family is fighting over family heirlooms and other personal property, it might be best to appoint a neutral third party to safeguard the property until a Personal Representative is appointed and until there is an agreement about how to divide things.

c. If the deceased person was obligated to do something (like complete the sale of a house), and a Personal Representative can’t be appointed in time for the closing.

These are just some examples that we see regularly. In any event, there is a solution. It will obviously increase the cost of the probate (because more documents need to be filed with the court and there needs to be at least one additional hearing).

Who can be appointed as Special Administrator? The Arizona statute (A.R.S. 14-3615) provides:

A. If a special administrator is to be appointed pending the probate of a will which is the subject of a pending application or petition for probate, the person named executor in the will shall be appointed if available, and qualified.

B. In other cases, any proper person may be appointed special administrator.

In other words, you appoint the person nominated in the Will. Otherwise, you can name “any proper person.” If the family is fighting, then the “proper person” is a neutral third party … preferably a licensed fiduciary.

You can see a video about this topic here. If you have any questions about special administrators, give us a call. And if you have any stories about special administrators or emergencies in probates, we would love to hear about them.


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How to Handle Estate Emergencies After a Loved One Passes Away

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How to Handle Estate Emergencies After a Loved One Passes AwayDealing with the death of a loved one is always difficult. But death isn’t always the hardest part for the survivors. Many family members are surprised by the challenges and conflicts that arise after the funeral when the family works to settle the estate. If you find that you cannot resolve a conflict regarding your loved one’s estate, you may need to seek assistance from an experienced probate attorney.

I’ve worked with many families in which bickering siblings made emotionally charged and hasty decisions when they distributed the personal property of a deceased parent. It often ended in chaos. Often, I’ve found that executors or trustees grossly mismanage bank accounts and other assets, and consequently deprive remaining family members of their portions of their parent’s legacy.

Naturally, everyone wants the administration of a deceased person’s property and money to be orderly and methodical. But if it isn’t, and if you feel the situation is on the verge falling apart or has already deteriorated into an estate emergency – through misunderstandings or power struggles or other complicated interpersonal relationships – you have two legal options:

  1. Get a personal representative or executor appointed by the court (if one hasn’t already been appointed), or
  2. Petition for an immediate protective order from the court (if the appointed representative or executor is mismanaging the estate).

The biggest mistake I see families make when they try to resolve arguments about distributing their deceased loved one’s belongings and property is to take the law into their own hands. It’s vitally important that you go through proper legal channels to handle an estate. This avoids later flare-ups and also ensures an orderly distribution of assets and legacies. Take these essential steps:

  1. Secure the estate’s property until an executor or personal representative is appointed. If necessary, enlist the help of a third-party fiduciary to do this by being appointed as a Special Administrator. (The police will not intervene in family-estate issues.)
  2. File for an immediate protective order from the court with the assistance of an experienced probate attorney.
  3. Have a representative or executor appointed to manage the estate.

With a qualified representative or executor is in place an estate can be settled according to the will or trust that a loved one has left in place. Without quick action and the help from a special administrator, you risk a delay in probate proceedings and the disappearance of personal property.

If, after your loved one has died, you find that his or her estate is not being administered fairly or methodically, you may have an emergency on your hands. Be prepared to take immediate action if you suspect foul play or mismanagement of personal property in these instances. Talk to a probate lawyer right away.

Delayed action may leave you with no inheritance and no recourse. Working with an experienced estate attorney will not bring your loved one back, but it will ease your mind knowing that your late loved one’s wishes will be carried out.

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